This “book” contains 155 pages of the biggest text I’ve ever seen in a title not aimed at children or blind people, and only one argument: everyone is conspiring against you. Your government, your army, your church, your neighbors. Trust nobody. The conspiracy doesn’t just go to the top, it also goes to the bottom, and to the sides. Literally everyone is in confederacy against you.
But when you point at everything, you’re really pointing at nothing. Suppose I’m a restaurant critic who enjoys food from some restaurants while disliking food from others. This reflects my tastes. But suppose I hate every dish from every restaurant in existence, pronouncing it all rotten slop. At that point, I’m not saying anything meaningful. It’s more likely that my ability to judge the taste of food is impaired.
It makes no sense to believe in a conspiracy of everyone. Alex Jones’ putative New World Order is so absurdly powerful and far-reaching (it includes in its ranks George W Bush, Gorbachev, Kissinger, Mao, “Adolph” Hitler, Stalin, Reagan, Osama bin Laden, and all the world’s royal families and billionaires) that he shouldn’t have even gotten this book published. Anyone seeking to expose such a massive, globe-dominating force would disappear. This is the odd thing about Alex Jones’ world: there’s no room in it for Alex Jones. It’s like arguing that the world is run by fairies who cause you to drop dead when you talk about them: you prove yourself a liar just by existing.
Jones is impossible to take seriously, and his closing request that you wire him money – “The Republic is in great danger of being completely overthrown” – prompts the rather incredulous response: “you just told me that every President since Eisenhower meets annually at Bohemian Grove to perform human sacrifice. What’s left to overthrow?”
But logic literally doesn’t matter to people like Jones. A 2012 study found that conspiracy theories form a positive correlation matrix: belief in one theory means you’re more likely to believe in a second, and a third, etc. This remains true even when the theories contradict each other. In other words, if you answer “yes” to the statement “Princess Diana faked her own death”, then you are more likely to answer “yes” to the statement “Princess Diana was murdered.”
I’ve seen Holocaust denialists simultaneously argue that 1) Auschwitz had no crematoriums, and 2) the rate at which Auschwitz could cremate bodies was insufficient to conduct the Holocaust. I’ve seen 9/11 truthers simultaneously argue that 1) the pilots were CIA patsies 2) the buildings were hit by a cruise missile. Conspiracy theorists have no problems accepting Schrodinger’s Cat-like thought paradoxes, although they’ll probably insist the cat was murdered by globalist Zionist banksters. Normal people are driven by a need to make sense of the world. Conspiracy theorists are driven by narcissism of the intellect: they alone know the truth, and everyone else is a gullible fool. This is why they binge watch Youtube and scroll Twitter for sixteen hours a day. Facts are dollars: the more of them you have, the richer you are. The fact that their worldview is becoming a heap of self-abrogating nonsense doesn’t even register to them.
I found Descent into Tyranny to be a slog. Jones has the loud, hectoring style of a radio host who’s used to barreling over guests and callers, and reading this book makes me feel like I’m being yelled at. I pity whoever has to entertain Jones at Thanksgiving dinner; you clearly couldn’t hold a reasonable conversation with this person about anything.
Sometimes Jones’ shoot-from-the-hip writing style produces funny results. On page 15 he repeats the story of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but he gets it mixed up: he has Nero fiddling while setting fire to Rome (was he holding a firebrand between his toes?)
Most of the time, however, it just makes the book even sloppier and less grounded in fact. On page 101, he writes “For years, we warned people about FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The federal documents have been around for decades and include round-up plans and concentration camps.” End of section. Begin new section. This evasive handwaving would be fine on the radio, but not in a book. Can we see excerpts from these “federal documents”, or would that bloat Descent into Tyranny‘s length to an unpublishable 156 pages?
Descent Into Tyranny was written in 2002. I was curious to see how Jones’ political outlook evolved over time, as I vaguely remember Infowars being a left-libertarian website at the start. The book has a lot of time for conspiracies beloved of the left: IMF, the World Bank, David Koresh as a harmless hippie who was victimized by the feds, etc. It’s published by a small outlet called Progressive Press, whose other titles can be viewed online. (Sample excerpt: “The “Arab Spring” is revealed as part of the scheme to extend the Anglo-Zionist empire and its neo-liberal regime of plunder over the entire planet.”).
Jones was certainly less fond of “Vladymir Putin” (sic) in 2002. In the section entitled “Putin Uses Terror”, he reveals that Putin destroyed an apartment complex using explosive plastique, killing 350 people. Fifteen years later Jones would be on Twitter writing stuff like “Looking forward to Putin giving me the new hashtags to use against Hillary and the dems… “ In fairness, Putin killed 350 people a long time ago. You have to let stuff slide eventually.
Jones runs out of material by the end, so he pads out the book by including the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Communist Manifesto (which he claims was written by “global banking cartels”.) It’s gratuitous and farcical. All you need is Huckleberry Finn and Of Mice and Men and the book could serve as a middle-schooler’s summer reading list. Infowars’ slogan is “there’s a war on for your mind!” Alex Jones’ personal solution is to evidently not have one.